Dolphins are highly intelligent mammals, with an amazing ability to learn to understand our language. But as we gain more insights into their behaviour, we’re also coming to suspect that they might have their very own language — or at the very least a complex system for communicating with one another.
I’m my graduate studies I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about how something in the world becomes meaningful, how does one arrangement of matter become a symbol and another does not? I’ve been taking a developmental psych perspective on such matters, and with Solipsism (the belief that I am the only one who is real and conscious, and everything and everyone else is a construction of my mind) in the back of my mind I’ve come to the opinion that its the shared social experience we have in the world that allows communication. Without an embodied overlap of experience symbols and communication are not possible.
So the question is whether we could live with dolphins with enough overlap to form shared meanings, and therefore communicate. Of course this also depends on the ability to perceive the communicative acts of one and other (body language, sounds, the development of a third language equally accessible to both?).
Without the shared experience of the world we can only find syntax and not semantics.